Photo: Patria.org.ve retrieved
The government’s financial control agenda is evolving and they seem to have found a way to skip the whole ordeal of intervening private banks and jailing managers just to monitor how people use their money. And why settle with monitoring people’s finances when you can own them?
By implementing the central bank’s digital currency they can do exactly that, and more. Let’s take a look at the most recent event.
The elderly routinely receive a message everytime one of the government’s bonuses arrives, but this month it was different. On December 7, they got two messages and it seemed like the money for the pension came in, and then immediately out, with the only description being:
“Saving in petro.”
The messages looked like this:
MOTHERLAND WALLET: CREDIT for an amount of Bs.S. 1,800.00 for the concept of Elderly Love Pensions (Third month Christmas bonus 2018) on 12/07/2018
MOTHERLAND WALLET: DEBIT for an amount of Bs.S. 1,800.00 for the concept of Savings in Petro on 12/07/2018
Yes, the government traded the money the pensioners were desperately waiting for, for petros without their consent.
Naturally, people were pissed, and confused. Did that mean they wouldn’t be able to use the money? Did they need a Petro Wallet now? Could they change it back to bolivars?
The government has been handing out bonuses to the pensioners through the carnet de la patria system for months now. After a year of hyperinflation, the elderly have become so dependent on these bonuses, pensioners count the days for them to arrive.
That process normally goes like this: people receive the message, they go to patria.org.ve, they transfer the money to the bank, and then they spend all day at the bank trying to withdraw the money.
That webpage, patria.org.ve, is one of the most visited sites of Venezuela, only toppled by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Banesco.
The page shows a new option now: “Savings Plan”. It has a little piggybank and everything. Now you can exchange your bolivars for petros and supposedly protect them from the hyperinflation the government provokes. It seems like they were so proud of the new function, that they automatically converted people’s money to petros.
So kind of them.
By showing off that new “Savings” function, they gave us a look at what they have in mind for the banking system in Venezuela. They sent people the bolivars, and then, from their accounts, they exchanged them to petros. This must be a new form of the dictator’s erotic fantasy and wet dream: full control over citizens’ finances. They could take money when they feel like it, erase it, transfer it, you name it.
All they need to make it happen is force people to ditch their bank accounts and make the Patria webpage their default banking system. Then, the sky’s the limit.
If you’re starving, it’s really hard to pass on a bonus that might be twice your monthly salary just by signing up in patria.org.ve. Making people dependent on government bonuses to survive, and making the webpage patria.org.ve the only way to access those bonuses is the perfect way to get them to ditch their official banking system.
Even elders that hadn’t signed up for the system received the text messages, meaning that once they signed up, the money would be waiting for them.
The next step for the government would be to add a way to spend the money directly from the webpage, without having to withdraw it from a bank account. They’re working on that too, and this is where the petro comes in. Now the webpage has an option to integrate the Petro Wallet to the Patria Wallet.
For now, this is just an idea, a project. You can’t use the petro yet (even though they’ve launched it like three times by now), and the option to convert the petros back to bolivars and send them to a bank account is available, although the option is buried deep in the menu, you might even need a guide to find it.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.